Sunday, May 27, 2012

Peril at Bluestone Village - My DCC Character Funnel

In addition to putting together the underpinnings of my game world, Aedoss (pronounced, EYE-doss), I have nearly finished my 0-level character funnel entitled "Peril at Bluestone Village".  It begins with a village under siege by local brigands who have been united together by a mysterious and otherworldly sorcerer.  There are several elements that I wanted to bring to the fore with this story...

Unlikely Heroes In Extraordinary Circumstances...

  •  Of course this makes perfect sense as this is exactly what the character funnel in the DCC RPG is supposed to be.  The norm is not to begin play with heroes that have already come into their power.  Much the opposite, play begins with characters who are simple peasants or tradesmen with just a spark of the adventurer flame within them.  That being said, I thought that one of the best ways to give these common folk a brush with adventure would be for their village to be attacked by sinister forces.

A Threat From Beyond The Mortal Realm
  • One of the most surprising bits of advice that is given to DCC judges in the core rulebook is that extraplanar encounters should start early.  This is contrary to my experience with running old school adventure games.  Generally, the extraplanar stuff is left until higher levels are achieved, mainly because of the high levels of the opponents.  Once I did a bit of pondering on this idea, I realized that it follows right along with the tenets of many of the stories from Appendix N.  Heroes come right out of the gate, facing some sort of threat from "beyond the worlds we know".  Consequently, my character funnel session will feature a villain from another reality.

Bits Of A Bigger Tale
  • The character funnel session is at its best when it contains markers that will lead the 0-level mooks, not only to first level, but to further adventure as well.  The characters should learn some things that will give the survivors a path to travel, kick-starting their adventuring careers.  In my session, clues will be found about what is motivating the villain.  His interest in the seemingly insignificant village will be revealed.

Paths To First Level
  • For those who survive the meat-grinder, there needs to exist avenues that can be traveled to make the steps to first level reachable.  It seems to me that for each character class, something needs to be interjected that could cause one of the characters to make the choice.  I plan to handle this by creating situations that could be resolved by magic, divine inspiration, melee, stealth, and problem-solving.  This will allow a potential turning point to happen, perhaps causing a character to choose a certain path.  Beyond this idea, I plan to have several NPCs in Bluestone Village that can guide a potential adventurer in their chosen class.
Hopefully these element will mix together and give the players something to create a great adventure around. We'll soon see as the playing of the first session of my DCC campaign draws near!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Alignment And The Cosmology Of My DCC Campaign

Arrows of Chaos
The system of alignment in the DCC RPG is one that reflects its old-school heritage.  Law, Neutrality, and Chaos are the options.  Law is given as the choice of those who would uphold society's system of order and rules, producing the common good.  Chaos is all about over-throwing authority, exercising personal power, and self-serving ends.  The middle ground is Neutrality, the choice of those who choose not to decide, (hmmm...sounds like a famous Rush song of which I'm fond.)

Arrow of Law
I have nothing against these standard tropes, but I decided early on that I wanted my campaign's eternal struggle to have be decidedly less Gygaxian and more Moorcockian. (I'm not sure I like that sentence...moving on...) In my campaign, Law and Chaos will be struggling for dominance.  Either potential outcome will not be good for the mortal folks of the world.  If Law wins, the world become stagnant and unmoving.  If Chaos wins, the world becomes a place of ever-changing pain and torment.  The gods in the middle, those of Neutrality, are trying to protect the mortal realms from the ravages of the Cosmic War.

All that being said, here's a list of characteristics of my DCC RPG campaign cosmology...
  •  The universe exits in a state of war between the forces of Law and Chaos.
  •  Most mortal folks are left to be Neutral in the midst of the conflict.
  •  Good and Evil are not Law and Chaos
  • Law and Chaos are not Good and Evil
  • Good and Evil are choices that people make and can be relative to the chooser.
  •  Law sees life only as a circumstance that allows Law to be applied to it.
  • Chaos sees life only as a circumstance upon which change can be enacted.
  • Neutrality is the only world-view that holds life up as a good thing in itself.
  • The goal of Chaos is to put all of existence into a state of flux.  Wondrous pain and cruelty are signs that change is happening
  • The goal of Law is to ensure that all of existence is in a state where all of its parts act according to the rule prescribed for them.  Never changing, never growing. The abolition of free will is the earmark of Law succeeding.
  • The goal of Neutrality is to see life flourish...organized enough to be civilized, changing enough to be free.
To sum it up from the point of view of a mortal player character...Law can give me power, but may consume my free will. Chaos can give me power, but I may become monstrous.  Neutrality puts me in opposition to cosmic powers that may seek to destroy me, but in the end, that may be the only choice that keeps my soul free.

My Unexpected Attraction to The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

When I first heard about the new Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG my initial reaction was one of indifference.  I assumed that this new game would be another in a long line of OSR retro-clones of D&D.  OSRIC was my preferred "old-school" game and I didn't see any need to look for anything different.  For some odd reason, my attention kept drifting back to the Goodman Games web site where I watched the progress of DCC from playtest to pre-order.  To say I'm glad that things happened this way would be an injustice.

I think what really caused my attention for DCC to spark was the artwork. To put it simply, it's evocative.  I'd be lying if I said that all of the art was of a style that normally would be a favorite of mine.  That seems to matter little when I consider what it evokes in me as I see it.  It definitely helps me to recall what D&D was like for me back in 1980 when I first picked up the oddly-shaped dice and tossed them across the table.  So, like in the beginnings of many human relationships, I was initially hooked by physical appearances.

The art got the book (or should I say PDF) into my hands and my attraction began to deepen as I delved into the massive 471 page tome.  As I began to understand Mr. Goodman's purpose of creating a game inspired by the fiction of the 1st Edition DMG's Appendix N, I realized that this would be a different game than the rest of the OSR pack.  This approach strikes me as new, original, and genuinely inspired.

From there I continue to find things that I really, really like.  The classes all seem to have good reasons for players to want to play them.  Standing out for me are warriors and their "Mighty Deeds of Arms".  The semi-Vancian magic system for wizards shines forth from the pages.  The simple systems for combat, experience, and skills all fit with a game that hearkens back to the early days of the hobby.  I've not even touched on the 0-level character idea sure to produce a memorable first session of a campaign.

So where I am now is a long way from where I started regarding the DCC RPG. Now, I am more excited about starting this campaign than I have been for any other in a long span of time.  Next week, I'll be happily shoving characters through my 0-level, meat-grinder of a funnel...look here for all the gory details.